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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"CHRISTIANE TAUBIRA was taken aback, she says, though not altogether surprised, at the 'brutality' of the opposition to the same-sex marriage bill she shepherded into French law this year. 'Societies have their resistances,' said Ms. Taubira, 61, a diminutive, fiery woman from French Guiana who serves as France’s minister of justice. “There are those who, for their own sense of security, but also by choice — by doctrinal choice, that is to say by their choice of model — choose to hold on to old images.' She has been the object of similar resistances herself, she says. She once wrote that she 'became black in Paris,' though not by choice, and she has not been made to forget her otherness.  In protest chants this year, opponents of the marriage bill initially identified themselves as 'families' — 'Taubira, you are beat, families are in the street!' — but later as 'the French,' Ms. Taubira recalled, as if to cast her as a foreigner. There were more overt racist slurs, as well, she said. 'I don’t believe there have been other protests, or that it would be conceivable that a protest address another minister with the slogan ‘You are beat, the French are in the street,’ ' said Ms. Taubira, who has tight-braided cornrows and a slight vocal lilt. 'There’s a message of exclusion. So, I hear it! That’s all. I want to be lucid. I know what’s going on, I know what a word means, what an attitude signifies, but it is out of the question that a word or an attitude determine my life or my behavior.'  She remains sensitive to her difference, though, an outspoken woman of color in a position of considerable visibility and influence; few have come before her in France." (NYTimes)


"PORTO HELI—I am standing on the deck of a 100-foot schooner that was built in Normandy in 1931 by Gerald and Sara Murphy, the golden American couple who invented the south of France as a summer playground and were in the forefront of artistic and literary Parisian life at the time. More importantly, Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald trod on the exact spot where I’m standing—relaxing, rather. I’m surrounded by children and grandchildren but feeling a bit of a midget compared to the types who once sailed on the Weatherbird. I’ve chartered her for the month of August and the dreaded upcoming birthday, but far more importantly, in order to play Papa Hemingway, who once appeared chez les Murphys with his wife Hadley and his mistress Pauline in tow, as happy a threesome as the Riviera had seen that summer. (Alas, no such luck for the poor little Greek boy.) Gerald Murphy, a very talented painter, had designed a flag for Weatherbird which Picasso, another close friend, admired greatly. It featured a stylized eye in black and white that appeared to wink as it fluttered. Gerald was tall, handsome, and sandy-haired. He wore beautiful cut clothes. Sara was a classical beauty and the couple had three children. They were rich and talented and lived better than anyone, surrounded by beautiful things and gifted artists. Thus the stage was set for the Greek tragedy that followed—the loss of their two boys from disease—and eventual genteel poverty and death. So what else is new? ... Which brings me to my own child, John Taki, and the loss of his pointer dog Reas that has left us all bereft. J. T. asked us to keep Reas in Gstaad while he went bicycle racing in Spain, and Reas joined our other two dogs running around the Bernese hills. Reas had been with my boy all his adult life, from San Diego to Brooklyn to Rome and now Paris. She would sneak away down to the Palace hotel where the cooks would give her goodies and Andrea the concierge would then ring us and tell us she was waiting to be picked up in the lobby. Two weeks ago, Reas disappeared—something we were used to—but this time I had a terrible premonition about it. After looking for her for the best part of the day a gamekeeper found her at dawn. She had fallen in a crevasse and broken her neck. We brought her ashes on Weatherbird to J. T. and had a drink in her memory along with that of all the other greats who have sailed onboard this wonderful classic, starting with Papa." (Takimag)


"THE NAPA WINE community has been speculating for months about the intentions of Frédéric Engerer, the peripatetic CEO of Château Latour, who has been spotted prowling the valley with an acquisitive gleam in his eyes. I'd played the guessing game myself, and tried to get the debonair Mr. Engerer to drop a few hints when I dined with him in June at Harry's Bar in downtown New York, but all he would say was that the object of his affections was represented on Harry's voluminous wine list, which hardly narrowed the field. A month later, the announcement that François Pinault, the owner of Latour and Mr. Engerer's boss, had purchased Araujo Estate came as something of a surprise, since few had guessed it was for sale. Latour is arguably Bordeaux's most illustrious wine, and Napa Valley winemakers have always had a bit of an Oedipus complex with regard to the motherland of Cabernet Sauvignon. Bart and Daphne Araujo's wine is often identified as one of the 'cult' Cabernets—a group of boutique wineries that came to prominence in the 1990s with rich, ripe and supple Cabernets. But the Araujo Cabs were always a little more Old-World in style than their peers. While the others staked out new terrain on the hillsides above the valley, the Araujos took possession of the historic Eisele Vineyard. First planted in 1886 and located on an alluvial fan in the northeastern corner of the valley, the vineyard was already celebrated for the quality of wines made from its grapes when the Araujos bought it in 1990. The Araujos have produced many sensational wines since, the 1994, 1995, 2001 and 2002 among my personal favorites. " (Jay McInerney)


"Five years ago, the fashion industry faced a reckoning over the startling lack of diversity among the models on major designer runways. Reacting to complaints that many shows and magazines included nothing but white models, Vogue, in its July 2008 issue, featured a substantial article that asked, in its headline, 'Is Fashion Racist?' This came shortly after Franca Sozzani, the editor of Italian Vogue, published a provocative issue using only black models and feature subjects; Bethann Hardison, a former model and agent, initiated a series of panel discussions on the subject; and Diane von Furstenberg, the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, urged members to be more aware of diversity in casting. And since then, almost nothing has changed.  The New York shows are as dominated by white models as they have been since the late 1990s, roughly at the end of the era of supermodels. Jezebel, a blog that has been tracking the appearance of minorities in fashion shows since the debate erupted, noted that the numbers are hardly encouraging. After a notable increase in 2009 that followed extensive news media coverage, the representation of black models has remained fairly steady until this year, when they accounted for only 6 percent of the looks shown at the last Fashion Week in February (down from 8.1 percent the previous season); 82.7 percent were worn by white models.In Europe, where Phoebe Philo of Céline, Raf Simons of Dior and many others have presented entire collections using no black models at all, the opportunities have been even less favorable for minorities. 'There is something terribly wrong,' said Iman, one of the most iconic models in the world, who later created a successful cosmetics company. Her experience in the fashion scene of the 1980s and ’90s, when designers like Calvin Klein, Gianni Versace and Yves Saint Laurent routinely cast black models without question, was starkly different than that of young nonwhite models today, when the racial prejudice is all but explicitly stated. The increased appearance of Asian models over the last decade, for example, is often described specifically in terms of appealing to luxury customers in China." (NYTimes)


"Salter: The 'Interlopers' section includes stories about people who are quite successful outside of Hollywood entering the fray, such as Nike founder Phil Knight. He and his son, Travis, launch the animation studio Laika in hopes of building the next Pixar. Another fascinating example is Jason Kilar, who came from Amazon and started Hulu to stream broadcast-quality TV online. He was its first CEO. Why do you think outsiders are so drawn to the business? LaPorte: I think Hollywood is attractive to outsiders for the same reason it's attractive to all of us. It's a sexy, star-filled business that, quite literally, turns dreams into reality. The Dream Factory, and all that. It also is built upon, and generates, an enormous amount of money (even now, as the entertainment industry is supposedly in decline). Another element of Hollywood that I think is appealing to entrepreneurs is that it is a very illogical business. There is no formula to determine whether a movie will be a big hit. Most decisions hinge on a gut feeling. I think this appeals to people who like to take risks and bet big, and who are determined that they can, actually, figure out some kind of formula for success." (FastCompany)


"Here lies the true story of Swell Merlot, a screenwriter who had run dry of inspiration. Swell lounged poolside at the Mexican resort, sunbathing in her red bikini. She was supposed to be polishing a script, but she could not focus. Instead she drank and sunbathed and pictured Martin, her boyfriend, on his way to visit her. What she could never have imagined was that at that very moment Martin was hanging from chains in a dungeon. No one could hear his pitiful screams each time his skin was raised in welts from the whip. Swell was impressed with Martin, he was a decade younger than she, so she cut him slack where normally she might have castrated a dude. She felt he was an artist, undeveloped albeit, who needed time to grow. She thought she understood him. Earlier that day he had phoned, from LAX, 'I’m getting on my flight,' he had yelled down the crackling line. Swell was excited to see him but it reminded her she should be writing. Swell ordered another drink.
At LAX, with the ticket purchased for him by his tolerant girlfriend, Martin had altered the destination. As his thirtieth birthday loomed Martin had become engorged with the need to do something important. He decided to devote himself to a Mexican guerrilla movement bustling in the south of that enormous country. Story went that he flew down and volunteered himself to the rebels. A little tipsy but laden with gifts of alcohol and an antique musket, Martin had marched through the dusty town, demanding to speak with the rebel leader, known internationally as, ‘El Capitan’ and had promptly been picked up and tossed into a dungeon." (Christina Oxenberg)



"SEVERAL THINGS struck me while reading the Vanity Fair take on Princess Diana’s last great love, the heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. For one thing, the irony of his profession — a heart surgeon. If anybody needed their heart healed it was Diana! Her pathetic — but utterly sincere in the moment — insistence was that she craved normalcy. At times she did, of course, but in all likelihood, when she experienced it, or as close to it as she could ever get, it was thrilling at first, before she realized, once again the stultifying atmosphere of global fame. And missed it. Diana could never have lasted as the “unknown” wife of a doctor, living in Pakistan. And believe me, the press would have swarmed Pakistan — which she thought would insulate her from the paparazzi — just as they did the great cities of Europe, angling for a shot of her. It was as unlikely a concept as Elizabeth Taylor playing at being a political wife, or Marilyn Monroe dreaming that one of the Kennedy brothers would divorce a wife, abandon children and destroy a career for her. (Though I don’t quite believe that MM actually ever thought this. She was neurotic, not insane.)" (Liz Smith/NYSocialDiary)

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